Niagara Gazette — Winter’s first major snowfall was expected to taper off into flurries this morning, but not until after drivers throughout Niagara County had a tricky morning commute.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service expected the storm to blanket the county with a dumping of between 6-10 inches of the white stuff, with most of the accumulation expected to have taken place overnight.
“The worst is going to be overnight,” Jon Hitchcock, a meteorologist with the Buffalo office of the weather service, said Wednesday afternoon. “The bulk will fall between about 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. By daybreak, the worst will be over.”
A winter storm warning was expected to remain in effect until 1 p.m. today.
Local highway crews were ready for the first big snow in more than a year.
Dave Kinney, the director of the department of public works, said that his crew had 17 plows, seven salters, 7 pick-up trucks with plows and three pay loaders with plows at the ready for the incoming storm.
"All my guys are on alert," he said.
Unlike lake effect storms that typically target areas south of Buffalo, this storm is part of a general weather system and was expected to affect all of Western New York.
According to the weather service, heavy snow was expected to spread northward with snowfall increasing rapidly from south to north, with snowfall rates exceeding one inch per hour.
Increasing winds of 15-25 miles per hour with gusts up to 35 mph were expected along the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie shorelines. The combination of heavy snow and strong winds were expected to create very low visibilities overnight.
Residents throughout the region were advised not to travel unless it was absolutely necessary.
The storm was also expected to drop on the region the largest snowfall total in more than a year. The last time the Buffalo office recorded more than half a foot of snow in one day was in March 2011, and there hasn’t been a double-digit snowfall since December 2008.